"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Radon by zip code

In a strict sense, the significance of this isn’t that great, because the presence of radon can vary a great deal from house to house (or building to building).

But the new statewide analysis in Oregon of places – by zip code and by map – that register high or low in the radon screens are quite interesting.

There’s also a map.

From the release:

The Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division has developed maps that show where high levels of radon can be found around the state.

The OHA’s Radon Program recently collected radon test data from radon test kit manufacturers. The data show that some areas of the state have particularly high levels of radon.

“For example, Portland has a particularly high percentage of homes with radon levels over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s action level,” says Brett Sherry, program manager of the Healthy Homes & Schools Program. “The data show that one out of four homes tested in Portland has high radon levels. Luckily, homes with high radon levels can be fixed.”

The Radon Program and OHA’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Program worked with Portland State University’s Geology Department to develop radon maps for the state. The maps were generated using the data supplied by test kit manufacturers, and are posted on the Radon Program website at www.healthoregon.org/radon. Those using the site can also find a list of radon test results by ZIP code.

The maps also reveal there are large swaths of the state where no radon information is available. “This is concerning to us,” says Sherry, “because residents in these areas may have high levels of radon in their homes and not be aware of it.” The only way to know for sure if your home has high levels of radon is to test it. This is why Sherry recommends that all homes be tested for radon.

The Oregon Radon Program is working with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to educate people about the dangers of radon and to urge people to test their homes.

Radon is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer after smoking and kills more than 21,000 Americans every year. Radon is a radioactive gas, and like all other forms of radiation, you can’t see, smell or taste it. But radon could be in your home at dangerous levels.

Radon, a naturally occurring gas that comes from the ground, can be found throughout Oregon. It can get into any type of building or home and can build up to unsafe levels. People are most likely to get their greatest exposure at home, where they spend most of their time.

Testing homes for radon is simple and inexpensive. Radon test kits can be purchased at local hardware and home improvement stores, or directly from radon testing companies. Many test kits are priced between $10 and $25. The American Lung Association in Oregon (ALAO) offer test kits for $14, which includes the cost of shipping, handling and analysis.

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